Infrastructure: Thimphu thromde will revive the two pedestrian underpasses along Doebum Lam in Thimphu.

The two underpasses, one below the Swimming Pool Complex and the other at the junction below Changangkha Middle Secondary School were constructed to allow pedestrians to cross the road without having to disturb traffic flow especially during peak-hours.

Thimphu thromde’s chief engineer, Pekar Rabgay, said that the underpasses were constructed at the time of widening Doebum Lam in early 2000. The urban roads were then looked after by the Department of Roads.

However, the underpasses are not used by pedestrians, Pekar Rabgay added.

A National Pension and Provident Fund colony resident, Namgay Pem, said that she used to walk through the underpass below the Swimming Pool Complex while going to office in the morning and returning home in the evening.

“Having the underpass was convenient because I can get to the other side of the road without having to navigate through the vehicle traffic,” she said. “Sometimes I walk home late and that is the time the underpass becomes quite dreary.”

She narrated an incident that occurred two years ago. She was walking home late in the evening and the tunnel was dark. She hesitated at the entrance of the underpass as she could feel somebody in the tunnel.

“I couldn’t turn back because I was at the entrance so I kept walking,” she said. “A man was standing in the middle of the tunnel and he began following me.”

She ran to the other side and didn’t look back to see who it was because she was shaken and afraid. Namgay Pem hasn’t used the underpass since that day.

“Now I always take the road,” she said. “It takes little longer to get to office and back home but it is safe.”

Another resident, Chimi, said that she used to walk through the tunnels but she stopped because it is dirty and smells foul.

She heard her friends talk about encountering a man in the tunnel with his face covered, which is the other reason she is avoiding the underpasses. “It’s dark and dangerous.”

If the underpasses are rehabilitated and made friendly and safe, it would ease traffic flow especially during peak hours, Chimi said.

Thimphu thromde plans to provide pedestrians with useful and safe underpasses by the end of the year.

Pekar Rabgay said that a proper drainage system would be constructed in the underpasses. Both the access points will be roofed and the lighting system improved.

The thromde also plans to construct a public toilet and a small shop for the caretakers in the underpasses and make them more safe for pedestrians. CCTV (closed circuit television) cameras will also be installed in both the underpasses.

Nu 2.7 million worth of revival work will be contracted out. Currently, there are only two pedestrian underpasses in the city.

Dechen Tshomo